The Thing About Bees

The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter Written and Illustrated by Shabazz Larkin (2019) – Hardcover

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The Thing About Bees has an interesting origin story, which is detailed in the author’s note. Author Shabazz Larkin had an extreme fear of bees and didn’t want to pass this fear to his two sons. So he set out to learn everything he could about bees to educate his sons and teach them why bees are so vital to the planet. The Thing About Bees is a love letter from a father to his sons and a tribute to the pesky but necessary insect, the bee! By educating his sons on the significance that bees have on the world, he hopes to turn their fear of them into an understanding and appreciation of their existence.

Additional content includes: two page-spreads that include information about how bees pollinate, a guide on bee safety, and a comparison chart between different bee and wasp species (thus the STEM tag!).

My only criticism is, although I love seeing the image of one of the sons on the cover, it would have been great to see an image of the Black father with his sons on the cover illustration. It’s so important to me that we change the narrative surrounding Black fathers. This would have been the perfect moment to showcase the best of Black fatherhood right on the cover. However, the inside illustrations do wonderfully showcase a loving, playful Black father. And these illustrations are such a marvel!

Inspired by two of his favorite American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Norman Rockwell, Larkin “choreographed a series of posed photos of himself and his family…to create the illustrations for the book.”  The results provide uniquely action-packed and emotive illustrations. 

Take-away message: Author Shabazz Larkin shares his message in the author’s note: “It’s brave to try and understand the things that scare us. Now, go be brave.”

TAGS: father-son, family, STEM, male lead, Black, hardcover

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